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Mistake fares on airfare and hotels happen periodically and at a seemingly random interval (even if Point Princess says they happen in 3s!). I don’t always post about them because a) I don’t like paying for things so it has to be a REALLY good deal to entice me and b) mistake fares often seem to happen in the middle of the night my time, so by the time that I figure it out, the deal is dead.
This past week, we’ve had flights from North America to Europe for as low as $400, a sale to Bali, Indonesia for $400-500, an Etihad mistake far and then most recently, flights to Milan for $160 and India for $220.
Following the Mistake Fare Rules
There are 2 main rules when you see a mistake fare:
1) DO NOT CALL THE AIRLINE (or anyone). Some mistake fares are not honored and that’s just part of the game. Once you are ticketed, then you’re (usually) good to go – just be patient.
2) Book now, ask questions later. If you stop to think about whether or not it’s a good idea, the deal might be gone. These deals GO FAST
As a side note: don’t expect to earn miles for any of these mistake fares. If you do, it’s a bonus, but it’s unlikely. And CERTAINLY don’t call the airline to complain about not getting your miles (see Rule 1)
Following the right people
Unless you have nothing better to do than spend all day every day scouring sites looking for deals, it’s likely that you’re going to hear about the next mistake fare from someone else. I find Twitter to be a pretty good place for this kind of stuff, since it tends to move quicker than blogs or Facebook.
Brief social network interruption!!! Have you thought about following Points With a Crew on Twitter? Or maybe Facebook?
The FlyerTalk Mileage Run Deals forum is where most of these mistake fare deals get shared as well, but in my opinion, there are too many ‘deals’ posted there that aren’t really that deal-worthy (for me), so I would just get my news when Twitter really starts heating up.
Decide what you’re willing to pay, BEFORE you see the deal
All too often, in the miles and points world as in life, we get suckered into buying something we don’t need or even want, just because either a) we think it’s a great deal, or b) everyone else is doing it (or both). One of my favorite sayings is:
Buying something you don’t need at 75% off is still a waste of 25% of your money
That’s one of the reasons I didn’t jump in on the recent sale / mistake fares to Europe. $450 to Dublin or $600 to Zurich are great deals, but if you’re not planning a trip to Europe, that can put a serious dent in your budget! Especially if you have to multiply that by 2 (or 8, in my case!)
So take a few minutes right now and decide what the maximum you’d be willing to pay is. Then WRITE IT DOWN (or you won’t stick to it in the heat of the moment). For us, I’d say maybe $200 to Europe or $100 to an “exotic” domestic location (like Hawaii or Alaska). I do realize that these prices are crazy and it would have to be a DEFINITE mistake fare, but anything other than that, I’d rather just use points and miles to fly rather than paid tickets.
Figure out your schedule
These deals often go SUPER-FAST! Book now, ask later! Many booking sites like Orbitz offer a 24-hour cancellation policy, which let you book the deal while it still lasts, and then figure out if it works.
There often isn’t time to ask your wife what the kids’ school schedule is like, or ask the grandparents if they can babysit. So do that NOW, to prepare for the next time. For us, I think with a few months’ advance notice we could get someone to watch the kids for us for 3-4 days, and if it was something we were going to take the whole family on, I wouldn’t mind missing any school at this stage of life.
What works for me won’t work for you, of course, so figure out your OWN schedules.
Okay the 5th one is maybe not super serious – but I find that these super cheap airfares always seem to happen in the middle of the night, so maybe not sleeping would help you grab one. After all, you can always sleep on the plane!!!
Did you take advantage of any of the recent super-cheap airfares? Are you planning to grab the next one? Leave me a note in the comments!